Torah Minute: Rosh Hashanah & September 11th

By Rabbi Moshe Katz

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… Where were you when…?
I think every generation has one major event.
Something that changes our lives forever.
When I was growing up… 
It was “Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated”?
In my parent’s generation?
It was probably the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
For us, of course, it’s September 11, 2001.
“Where were you when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers”?
Because in different ways, these were “defining moments”.
… I’ve been thinking that we should also ask ourselves another question.

Especially as Rosh Hashanah approaches.
“What were we like…
On September 11th…12th… 13th… October…November 2001”?
Because we were very different.
Individually.  And as a society.
Sure, we were scared. We were angry.
And we mourned the loss of life, and the lives that were shattered.
But we were different in another way.
Our priorities changed…
Because we were reminded how fragile life can be.
And about what’s really important in life.
We knew that no one called their stockbroker from the Twin Towers.
And no one on the hijacked planes was thinking about the Bears game.
We knew some of the things that every single person was thinking about.
No matter what language they spoke!
The people they loved. The meaningful things they still wanted to accomplish.
And their relationship with G-d.
… We remember that the word “hero” suddenly meant something different.
Not great athletes.
But ordinary people who did great things.
Like risking their lives to save total strangers.
Or losing their lives because they stayed to comfort a coworker in a wheelchair.
The people who dug through the rubble around the clock looking for survivors.
Even after “there wasn’t really much hope”.
Because, unlike the terrorists, they knew that every human life is sacred.
… It’s human nature.
These things wear off.
And America also felt the need to “get back to normal”.
To show the terrorists that they didn’t win.
…But we shouldn’t forget “what we were like” after September 11th.
And next time we’re about to call and say…
“Hi dear. We’ll have to make it a different night. Something came up at the office”.
Or… Daddy would love to come to watch you… but… I would love to help you but…”
We should ask ourselves…
“What would I have done after September 11th 2001”?
All the best and Shana Tova.

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